This week brings the news of Chester Bennington’s, lead singer of Linkin Park, passing, death by suicide, or depression to be precise.
Linkin Park’s Hybrid Theory came out in 2000, when I was 16 years old, during the height of my teenage angst, and firmly rooted in a bout of severe depression. I recall walking around my home town listening to it on repeat on my personal CD player, when bunking off school, or late at night when, unable to sleep, I’d sneak out of the house and walk the dark streets alone, reclaiming my territory with the absence of bullies and small minded townies. I pranced about my bedroom screaming the lyrics to the likes of Papercut, One Step Closer, and Runaway into my hairbrush many a time and bawled my eyes out to In The End. A Place For My Head was somewhat of an anthem of mine, giving me hope for a future life outside of the restrictions of school and small townsville and rural living.
In the years that followed my music tastes changed and developed and I can’t say I followed their progression as a band, but over the years I have come back to that album time and time again, in times of struggle and sadness. It has helped me to vent and reconnect with my inner teenage child on many occasions, has been a crucial part of my own music therapy, and it’s an album that I rarely skip a track on.
Today I have listened to Hybrid Theory, and danced about and sang along as I always do, and thought about what it means to lose someone that you never knew personally, but who shared so much of themselves, someone who made an impact on your life, despite you having never met them or felt their presence in person.
And of course it made me very sad.
It is unfathomable sometimes that someone with all that means, in terms of the best therapy and experiences that money can buy, the holidays and retreats that were accessible to them, the adoration, attention and love that they could have called on their fans for..could still choose to end their life that way. But the truth is that all means nothing, when you become so unreachable and worn down by depression, and whatever else may have been going on their life.
There becomes a disconnect in your brain, it’s like an outer body experience, where you just can’t reach yourself, or anyone, and nothing make sense any more, nothing feels real, there is no way to feel comfortable in your own skin, the only familiar thing is your own fucking pain and a feeling that nothing will ever be right again. And you’ve been there so many times and it just keeps coming back stronger, and you just run out of fucks to give, for yourself, for the future, for anything you’ve lived through, for anything that you could become. And you feel so fucking isolated and tired, it’s just exhausting all the time. And you begin to feel like a burden, because the weight that you carry is so great that you can’t possibly expect anyone else to carry it for you, so you have to take it with you. Because only then will it die, when you kill it.
Except it doesn’t end there. Not for those you leave behind. It just evolves, into a new pain, an emptiness, a dark void where you used to be, and everyone who ever loved you, who ever cared, even just a little bit gets to divide that pain between them and carry for the rest of their lives.
If I ever chose to end my life by hanging, I’ll tell them in my suicide note to tell them it was auto-erotic asphyxiation, so they don’t have to feel the pain of feeling like they could have helped me, and prevented me from doing that, when the reality is that they probably couldn’t.
Everytime someone dies this way people cluck that at least it ‘starts a conversation’, brings about ‘awareness’, but the truth is nothing much changes unless the help available changes, why are so many people, even those with access to the best possible care, still losing their lives to their mental illness? I want to believe that this will be the last high profile suicide before people started demanding better, realising what was needed and lacking, because if people who live the dream and ‘succeed’ in life are still so prone to this violent end, then what hope do the rest of us have? I don’t have the answers, but I do know ‘the conversation’ needs moving along, we need to be more than One Step Closer to a solution, and fast.
The opposite of feeling suicidal, is feeling connected to anything other than yourself, anything outside of your own head and pain.
Please, if you ever start to feel that way, don’t get lost inside yourself, so far gone that you forget that people can and do get beyond those feelings and thoughts eventually. There are always ways to move and shift to a place of comfort outwith the mental torture. I know it’s hard, and I feel like a hypocrite because I know I haven’t felt suicidal for the last time in my life either, but I can’t give in to it, not now, not ever, and I urge you to not give up either. Please reach outwards not inwards, and remember that enough people give a shit about you that you are still here. Please don’t feel as though the world would be better off without you, because you matter, really you do.
And In the End, Chester, you mattered too.